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Grip of Silence

Silence.

That golden sensation.

The anxious crave it and those who have it feel anxious.

I desire silence when I want to get away from the sensory overload of life, but when I finally get it I start looking for people to talk to, music to play, something to watch, etc. When it comes time to speak about the depths of my heart and express the internal to those who can help me…that is when silence grips me.

It’s a strange paradox, I know. It is my best friend and greatest enemy.

Today I was approached by one of my closest friends. I expressed that I wasn’t doing well emotionally this morning, and immediately he began asking about triggers and the like. He appeared genuinely interested to hear about what was going on. Afterall, we had danced around the topic on many occasions.

Regardless of his desire to understand and to show care, the words caught in my throat. An old defense mechanism that I used to use to avoid awkward conversations, or to prevent an increase in the feeling of shame.

Sensing it, and feel exposed in the middle of a church fellowship hall, I rescheduled a time to talk about it, but I know that I’m going to have to fight to open up and share what lies below the surface.

Even after years of practice, it is still difficult to be vulnerable.

As a residential worker, I encouraged my students to be vulnerable because I saw the importance of it. And every time I saw one of those teens, or even one of my staff, open up and step boldly into that vulnerability I found myself filled with awe and respect for them.

I knew how hard it was for me after years of intentionality. How much more so was it for my students who had not previously known how to be vulnerable, especially with someone who is the icon of everything they hate (a.k.a. the Christian therapeutic boarding school they never wanted to go to).

Silence, in my life, has found itself in the wrong place; out of step.

Silence is supposed to bring peace and tranquility, not be the means by which my problems remain in control of my mind or my relationships.  Therefore, I find it necessary to put silence back where she belongs. In the light rather than the dark.

How you might ask? It’s not easy.

  1. Identify emotions and recognize where silence is most prominent in your life. Is it helpful? or is it hurtful?
  2. Begin breaking out of the grip of silence by intentionally meeting with a friend and choosing to be vulnerable with him or her.
  3. Practice the spiritual discipline of silence and let it be a holy practice rooted in the Spirit. A time of peace and recovery.

It takes time and energy to restore an element of our lives, but when we put in the work we find health and peace. In the end, it will be worth the time it took to find rest in the silence.

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